Addiction to gambling is a very real problem in the United States. Gambling addiction, also called gambling disorder, is a condition whereby a person engages in persistent and uncontrolled behaviour designed to reduce the perceived risk of loss or injury from gambling. Although the term “gambling addiction” may seem to imply that all gamblers develop these problems, this is not true. It is estimated that one in four Americans engage in some form of gambling behaviour, although many people regard the activity as harmless. However, like many addictions, this can be a very serious problem, which if not treated can significantly damage a person’s life and well-being.
There are many characteristics of gambling addiction that should be evident to anyone who is aware of the problem. The most obvious is a dramatic increase in the amount of time dedicated to gambling over any other period of time. This includes all gambling activities – including betting, slot machines, online gaming and poker. Gambling can also lead to significant changes in a person’s work and social patterns as a result of continued involvement in the gambling activities. The constant urge to gamble can often lead people to neglect their jobs and family responsibilities, causing a considerable strain on the relationships between family members. Gambling can also lead to a loss of employment and a possible decrease in pay.
People who are particularly vulnerable to the problem of gambling addiction may often withdraw from society and shun contact with people and opportunities that they would use to alleviate some of the stress caused by their gambling behaviour. This can have a significant impact on their physical and mental health, causing them to develop serious physical conditions such as depression, anxiety and even high blood pressure. This may eventually lead to alcohol or drug abuse, both of which gambling addiction is intimately associated with.
It is important to note that there is a difference between gambling addiction and recreational gambling. People who engage in excessive gambling are undoubtedly suffering from a serious problem. However, this is not the same as someone who gambles for pleasure in casinos or at a sports event. There are several characteristics that define the problem of gambling addiction, including financial losses, a feeling of guilt and possibly even paranoia. A person suffering from a gambling problem may be gambling beyond their means, yet will not feel guilty about this because they feel as if they are just fulfilling a need that they have had for a long time.
It can be very difficult to treat gambling addiction. Gambling addiction is not the same as substance addictions like drug or alcohol abuse. The problem of gambling can be treated through counselling and often involves entering into therapy and participating in classes designed to help the person overcome their addiction. Although many gamblers make attempts to leave the addiction behind, it can only be done successfully with professional help.
Anyone suffering from a gambling addiction may be able to receive treatment through counselling. The treatment of gambling addiction is quite similar to that of alcoholism treatment in that the problem gambler needs to address their problems holistically. The gambler should have a comprehensive understanding of why they are making bets and what effect gambling will have on them. The person needs to understand that they have control over their behaviour and that if they exercise this control they will see results.